The Connectivity Trap

We were in the middle of an important conversation when the call came in.  Jack, I will call him, was a middle aged business man, who had a proposition for me that was supposed to revolutionize my business and my life.  The call interrupted his presentation for about 2 minutes, but in that time I found myself pondering the purpose of the endless demands on our time and our seemingly endless connectivity with our fellow man.

As it turns out, the call was not as important as Jack had originally supposed.  As a matter of fact, I caught him in idle chit chat and shot him a glance that said, “Come on, Pal!”  At that point, he ended his call, but over the next 10 minutes there was a seemingly endless array of tones signifying texts coming in.  With each tone Jack flinched a little, unable to completely ignore the tugging of the sound on his brain.

He concluded his presentation by letting me know he had another call he had to attend.  Needless to say, Jack did not get my business nor did he get any more of my attention.  Nor will he…ever!

What was most disturbing was that Jack, like me, was in his mid 50’s. He, like me, had spent several decades in the dark ages of limited and purposeful communication, which required some forethought and action, other than pushing speed dial.  Unlike me, he had modernized his life and was attended by all of the bells and whistles that the continuing array of communications devices provides.  Out of curiosity, I checked his Facebook account.  There, in too much detail, were the details of his business day, his clients and all of the nonsensical and unimportant things he did during that day.  None of them seemed to hold any priority in his vapid endless stream of consciousness babble that masqueraded as communication.

The parallels to the minds of so many people I meet are inescapable!

I began to wonder if Jack was actually a participant in his own life or merely a scribe, jumping between texts, tweets and Facebook commentary.  The latter has managed to change the meaning of the word “like” forever.  How stupid!

I am sure Jack’s children had all of the newest devices for said endless communication.  I am sure Jack lamented the cost of many things in his life, including things that would improve his health. But he did not bat an eye at how much time/money he spent lining the pockets of the telecommunications giants with his money.  I am sure his children would not think of using anything but the latest piece of equipment and felt deprived if it was not on their doorstep within 24 hours of its release. Perhaps Facebook can create a new word for that kind of addiction.

Today, our children have an endless array of freedom, information and choices. And a deficit of facts and attention. If it is said on the internet, it must be true and everyone is an expert on anything.  I wonder if they will ever realize someone is getting very rich from their addictions, while they buy into one world saving agenda after another, all spread and hyped by the information “revolution”.

To me Verizon and T Mobile are just as evil as Monsanto.

Ten years ago, I made some huge changes in my life.  One of them was to reduce the size of my medical practice by about 90%. In the process, I got rid of what I euphemistically called, my “electronic leashes”.

They were my pager and my portable phone. My pager was a one way leash.  They called and I had to answer, no matter what, when or where.  And for 18 years I did so, dutifully. My portable phone was not a cell phone. It was a 3 watt semi portable thing that ran about 1 hour on battery and weighed about 5 pounds. It was the size of an encyclopedia, a book that is, not a digital version!

So, in a very real sense, I embraced technology and was probably among the first 5% in the world to have a mobile phone.  Even then, I knew the line between tool and obsession would be blurred by too many people.

I could not have been happier to get rid of these leashes, because I discovered then, what has since been the topic of much research and writing.

Much like the human body has not adapted well to Modern foods, the human brain is not adept at handling the extended tribe that today’s modern communication devices have forced on people.

It has been said and I believe that we are geared for social circles of no larger than 150. And yet, we need to know everything about everyone, everywhere.

Do we really!?  Can it really be important or even healthy to “know everything” with no discernment of importance?

One of the other changes I made 10 years ago, was to stop watching the “news”. In the process, I cut my TV time down to about 2 hours a week, which opened up time to read about things that were related to my interests and my field.  Since then, I have not once missed a meaningful world event. And I have become a true expert, not a phony internet one, on at least 3 things: longevity, Omega 3 fatty acids and telomeres.

I am sure it is too late to stop the endless addiction to connectivity that our society has so rapidly embraced. Just like it is too late to stop the endless flow of pseudo experts on the internet. I am also sure no real good can come of it. And the saddest thing is people my age should know better. Kids I can understand- when one has it, they all have to have it. But I really don’t care how many hamburgers fit on your grill.

And trust me, neither do you!  Then again, you might miss the Groupon special on brand name popcorn that is going on within a 20 mile radius of your home.

And that missed opportunity could alter your life forever!



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